By Megan Giles: Retirement Transition Consultant. First published by Over Sixty [Link: www.oversixty.com.au]
Retirement is a significant life change and one that some people breeze through whilst other struggle. On paper it should be relatively simple – we all go from working one day to not working the next. So why can the journey look and feel so different between different people?
The reality is that there is so much more to retirement planning than simply picking a date and ensuring that you have sufficient money in the bank. Retirement planning needs to be holistic and by that I mean preparing psychologically and emotionally also. Why? Because the research demonstrates that they people who take control and proactively plan for life in retirement tend to feel more fulfilled, engaged and content. Who wouldn’t want that?
Don’t let retirement take you by surprise, take action now! If you are one to two years away from retiring, here’s a look at what you should be doing regarding the non-financial aspects of retirement to prepare for a successful transition.
1. Review your financial plan
- As they say, ‘knowledge is power’. Ensure you have a good understanding of when and how you will be able to retire and that you have the means to support your retirement lifestyle
- If not already, I highly recommend you meet with a trusted financial planner to discuss what is possible for you
- I’d add to this to speak with your HR department to understand what needs to be done from an employer-employee perspective to help ensure a smooth transition
2. Talk with your significant other
- What are the big ticket items and do you each know how the other would like to spend their time in retirement?
- If your plans align – fantastic! If not, you have time to discuss and create plans that are going to support and fulfil each of you
- Consider which activities are important that you do independently and which you might do together. Ensure that it is a mixture of both, as it’s commonly reported that living out of each other’s pockets in retirement after quite separate working lives can drive couples crazy!
3. Consider a ‘practice run’
- Utilise your long service leave or extended annual leave to ‘test run’ retirement
- What would it feel like if you could go to the gym three mornings a week, look after your grandchild one day per week, and volunteer one afternoon per week?
- Would that be enough for you – would it create the sense of fulfilment that you are seeking or might you need to keep refining your plan?
4. Have a hobby outside of work
- Life is busy, but make time to develop an interest outside of work before you retire
- Not only will this help to create a sense of continuity when work no longer fills your waking hours but will ensure you have an established network of people to spend time with and to draw on for support if you need it
5. Get your home retirement-ready
- What will your home look and feel like in retirement? How will you use it? For example, will the kids have left home, will the grandchildren will regularly spend time with you, and will you regularly entertain at home
- Do rooms need to be re-purposed, e.g. to create a home office or a cosy entertaining area?
- Take this opportunity to declutter and create space. Get rid of the things you no longer want and ensure that the items that you use on a regular basis are easily accessible (make it easier for yourself and save unnecessary reaching and straining)
6. Health check
- Is your body going to let you do the things that you want to do? For example, you have dreams of making a pilgrimage along El Camino or bushwalking through The Kimberley. How are your knees, are they going to hold up?
- Visit your GP now for a full assessment of your health. You have time to make changes, such as eating better or exercising more so that you are able to grab retirement life by the horns
- (Bonus tip – planning to travel overseas? Find out what vaccinations you need to have before you go. For example, the Hepatitis B vaccination comprises three shots over a six month period)
As the saying goes ‘do something today that your future self will thank you for’ and set yourself up for a retirement that truly is fulfilling and lights you up each day.
To better understand how prepared you are for retirement, why not download the Retirement Planning Questionnaire?
It's more than just a quiz, it's an action-focused tool that will help you take action today (not wait until the day you retire!) to create a retirement that you will love to live!
If you enjoyed this article, you might also like to read What you need to do one month before you retire and Checklist for planning your social life in retirement.